The saints trod lightly when near burning bushes, they even take off their shoes when the Lord asks them. There is an awe of what is holy. A holy fear. Rough Peter, a fisherman, who undoubtedly had a caustic edge, tried to get Jesus to go away from him when he realized who Jesus was. Peter knew he was a sinner. He was to learn about grace and the love of Christ but the presence of someone so loving yet holy seemingly scared him.
Sometimes I wonder if the people in the Church who make mockery of others aren’t exhibiting a kind of fear. But it is a fear that rejects the changing power of Jesus Christ, the power that transforms the sinner.
Last night I posted a piece on Charles Williams’ book The Place of the Lion. I quoted from and wrote about two men running in fear. One was running in fear from the other who in his evil and hardness was pursuing the first. The cunning and despising man was turning slowly into a monster so that he was half human and have wolfish creature. But he was running from the Lion-a magnificent creature with ultimate power which he wanted nothing to do with.
In the story, Plato’s forms are invading the world and pulling everything into them. Only the sheep are safe. Buildings are crashing and fires are starting. The earth is arid and the air is hot. Three creatures represent the Holy, what Rudolph Otto called the numinous, the Lion, the Eagle and the Unicorn. The Lamb is there in the story, as a reference to the Lamb of God. But the sheep are there too; a metaphor for the people of God.
As I wrote in my posting last night the lady Damaris saw both of the men; the one whose face had been badly ruined by the other, but also the one who was in pursuit of another soul. Her thoughts, “The face was as inhuman as that other, but while that was man blasted this was man brutalized. It was a snarling animal, and it was snuffling and snorting with open mouth.” This reminds me of a thought that both C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald developed.
That is, that all of us are becoming either the darkness we gather to ourselves or in our clinging to the Light of the world we are becoming “Everlasting Splendors.”
But Lewis had some advice; we are to relate to others as immortals. “Immortal horrors or everlasting splendors indeed, but we must take each other very seriously. “No flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.” Yes, dealing with each other requires a careful kind of love, a costly love.
We cannot know what fear the other holds because we hold on to Jesus and insist on keeping his word. We simply know that Christ hangs on to us with transforming power and love.